Lensball antics…

Many moons ago, at christmas I was given a Lensball. For the uninitiated, this is the description of a lensball, taken from their website:

A lensball is a hardened, ultra clear polished K9 crystal ball which acts like a wide angle lens giving you a 180 degree view and creates a refraction effect, whereby the image in the ball is flipped over – in the right setting it creates some stunning visuals.

https://lensball.co.uk/pages/faqs
lensball…

For one reason or another (lockdown…) I didn’t get a chance to take this new toy out to play until August.

I have to say I am loving it. It is fun and you can get some interesting effects… I am really only just getting the hang of using it, but I can see the possibilities for some interesting shots.

These are the first shots I ever took with it, using my Nikon D7500. I took a couple with my phone, but the quality with the Nikon is so much better that I am sticking to that!

I have read multiple reviews of lensballs, mainly when I was searching around for ideas, and there are definitely mixed feelings out there about the validity of it as a photography tool. There are people who think it is a gimmick, there are people who think that it is not worth their time because everyone is doing it, there are people who think it is not for serious photographers…

I have decided I don’t care what those people think, there is absolutely room for some lensball photos in my photographic shenanigans! Just because lots of people are doing it doesn’t make it a bad thing. Everyone looks at things differently, even through a lensball! And as for those who think it has no place in serious photography, who wants to be serious all of the time! There is a lot to be said for having fun, and you might just end up producing some pictures that people like to look at. Which is the point after all…

These pictures come from the only three times I have taken the ball out for a play. I have already learned a lot about using it and am looking forward to trying even more new things!

Polaroid Fun

We live in a world of digital photography and instant gratification when it comes to seeing the results of your photographic endeavors, not to mention a plethora of very easy ways to alter just about everything about the photo. I love this technology and the freedom it gives to take far more pictures than is really sensible, but I am and always have been a lover of film photography.

not my actual camera…

I got my first camera when I was 4 and progressed to a film SLR when I was 15. I still have it and it still works 🙂 it looks a lot like that one. My love of photography grew from this little entirely manual camera and I loved it. The only thing I didn’t love was waiting for the film to come back from the chemists…

In the 80s and 90s there was only one solution to all this waiting for photos.

The Polaroid camera.

My actual camera (and my matching mug)

I always wanted one. I loved the idea of getting my photo developed instantly (well sort of instantly, it takes about 15 mins) but my parents made the point that the photos were not as good as the ones from my SLR and that Polaroids and polaroid film was expensive. They were right of course, so I didn’t get one.

Until last year!

I decided I was going to rush headlong into the world of instant(ish) photography, and fulfil my teenaged self’s dreams (well, passing fancy anyway if not actually dreams). So, some ebay searching and £15 later I ended up with that lovely 1980s red Polaroid 645 CL up there which not only matches my 1980s campervan but also my camping mug! In a fit of Ebay browsing and purchasing, I now own 6 Polaroid cameras. Not all of which I intend to keep…probably…

I am impressed with the way the cameras work, once I learned that you have to clean the rollers on an extremely regular basis…
I have also learned that the original polaroid film, now all expired, does not work very well at all. Luckily for me there is a company called Polaroid Originals, who have bought out the polaroid company and are making new film that works with the original cameras!

I have been playing with these extensively, both colour and black and white and I love the results. Well most of the results, it is still important to have the right conditions 😀 it s doing this sort of thing that makes you realise just how forgiving digital cameras are. Especially if you shoot in RAW!

I am still working out what the right conditions for Polaroids are, and when to slide the little lighter/darker lever around, but I am happy to say I am getting more hits than misses these days…

Cyanotype Printing

Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print. Engineers used the process well into the 20th century as a simple and low-cost process to produce copies of drawings, referred to as blueprints. The process uses two chemicals: ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide.

(Wikipedia)

Cyanotyping is a process I have wanted to try for a long time; I am always trying to make interesting images out of my photographs using alternative processes. I have tried acrylic image transfer and I have made lino cuts and prints based on my photos, . This is a much more direct way of making photos and photo prints, using photosensitive paper and items (either photo negatives or any random items) directly on to the paper to mask its exposure to light. I have wanted try this for so long that I have had the chemicals, dry, un-mixed, in my kitchen cupboard for so long that i am wondering if they have gone off…

I decided it was time to get my act together and actually go somewhere where there was someone who knew how to do this thing and was willing to teach me! So, on Saturday I went on a Cyanotype Printing Masterclass at the Surrey Art School. It was run by the lovely Ellie, a photography and print specialist and founder of the school.

It was a fantastic course in an absolutely stunning location, the studio is absolutely lovely and Ellie was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. She took us through the whole process from coating the paper to placing your items, exposing them in the sun and rinsing the prints off. She had also pre-coated some paper for us to use, coating your paper in bright sunshine doesn’t work that well…it is photosensitive after all :-D. We also got some spare coated paper and unmixed chemicals to take home so we can keep practicing!

img_7893

This was my first attempt, I learned pretty soon that the shaft bit on the feather was too thick and was lifting the rest of the feather away from the surface of the paper.

If things are sitting up above the paper like this, the light can get underneath and the edges will be fuzzy…as you can see 🙂

This is a good lesson to learn 🙂 and that is the whole point of going on this sort of course, you learn what to do but also make mistakes and therefore learn what not to do.

I am obsessed with feathers at the moment and discovered that peacock feathers work really well for this process. I also took some of my own photos what I printed on to acetate. I completely forget to make negatives of them first so the resulting prints are negative themselves, but I like them, they look like blueprints 😀